Suddenly, Southern California freeways are in the entertainment news.

One of the Oscar winners in the documentary short category Sunday was "Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405."

• It's a profile of artist Mindy Alper, who says she finds it relaxing to to be stopped in traffic_unless she's running late.

• Then there was the guy who was arrested by California Highway Patrol officers the other day on suspicion of drunkenness while riding a horse on the 91 (see slightly-altered CHP photo). He was celebrating his birthday.

(Better he had stayed at home and played pin-the-tail-on-the-(toy) donkey.

I did a bit of research and found the latter incident wasn't the first of its kind here.

In 1990, a would-be cowboy, with a half-drained bottle of wine in his pocket, was arrested when he rode into the parking lot of the Compton Police Department, of all places. The rider's horse had apparently panicked after hearing the whistle of the new-fangled Metro Blue Line car that was on a trial run from Long Beach to L.A.

• All of which got me to thinking about the times that animals take to local roadways without the aid of humans — sometimes with amusing results.

• When a bull attacked a black-and-white police car in the Newhall area, Bill Keene, the late traffic reporter, said of the aggressor: "I guess if it was a Holstein, it thought the car was a female."

• Keene, an inveterate punster, said after a spill of frozen fish on the Harbor Freeway, "When the (California) Highway Patrol arrives, you'll have fish & CHiPs."

• In the 1970s, several chickens fell or jumped from a truck on the Ventura Freeway and motorists to this day insist that descendants of the feathered creatures still patrol the shoulders, pecking out a living.

• One of the most dramatic freeway sightings had a surprise ending. A beast reported to be an alligator or a large iguana on the 405 just south of Long Beach was determined to be a stuffed toy. I imagine the CHP breathed a sigh of relief on that one.

• By the way, perhaps it's just me, but I detect a resemblance between the sexy sea monster in the Oscar-winning "Shape of Water" and a creature that appeared in the Weekly World News after the 1994 Northridge quake (see photos).

In a story headlined "L.A. Quakes Open Gates of Hell!" the Weekly World revealed back then that "17 to 18" demons had escaped through the cracks of several local freeways.

As far as I know, they're still running loose. In case you were wondering, the Weekly World also noted that the monsters were "7 to 12 feet tall," making it unlikely that they would be on horseback.

Steve Harvey can be reached at and @sharvey9.

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